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Audit: 2020 was third-highest year for antisemitic incidents in the US

It’s been two years since the deadly antisemitic attack on the Chabad of Poway, when a shooter entered a synagogue full of Jewish worshippers and killed beloved community member Lori Gilbert-Kaye. Kaye sacrificed her life to save Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein in the attack.

Unfortunately, two years later, antisemitism remains at a historic high, and in 2020 was the third-highest year on record for incidents, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which released its annual audit of antisemitism in the U.S. on Tuesday.

In 2020, the ADL recorded 2,024 antisemitic incidents across the nation. The incidents include 1,242 acts of harassment, 751 acts of vandalism and 31 assaults.

The total number of incidents decreased by 4% from 2019, which saw 2,107 incidents. The only incident category that rose in 2020 was acts of harassment, which increased 10%.

Further, incidents of antisemitism occurred in 47 states and the District of Columbia. New York, New Jersey, California, Florida and Pennsylvania combined account for nearly 57% of the total number of antisemitic incidents, the ADL notes.

“While any decline in the data is encouraging, we still experienced a year in which antisemitic acts remained at a disturbingly high level despite lockdowns and other significant changes in our daily lives and interactions with others,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director. “We can’t let our guard down. As communities begin to open up and people spend more time in person with others, we must remain vigilant.”

The COVID-19 pandemic also played a role in the antisemitism Jews in America experienced this year. And although incidents in schools declined with most children in remote learning, Zoom school saw an uptick in ‘Zoombombing’ incidents.

‘Zoombombing’ is a term used to describe someone who hacks into an online video conference. One incident, reported by StopAntisemitism.org in April 2020, targeted students at Yeshiva University, a Jewish institution.

The ‘Zoombombers’ wrote antisemitic messages and slurs in the students’ virtual meeting including, “SHUT THE F*** UP JEWS,” “hail hitler,” and “IMMA GAS YALL.”

“There was a marked decline of school-based incidents after March, when nearly all schools moved to fully remote learning, so the pandemic definitely played a role in shifting how and where antisemitism manifested in 2020,” Greenblatt said. “This was offset to some degree by the high number of Zoombombing incidents targeting Jewish people and other marginalized communities.”

The ADL has been tracking antisemitism since 1979.

You can follow Jennie Taer on Twitter @JennieSTaer

Jennie Taer

Jennie Taer